Sentencing Guidelines

What is Parole? Calculating a Sentence

OJ Simpson will appear before the Nevada Parole Board, after nine years in a state prison for robbery-related crimes.  A high-profile parole hearing often brings a slew of questions about parole in criminal cases in North Carolina and the federal system. The Definition of Parole Parole in American criminal justice is the review by a…

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Sentencing: What we Know, What Sessions does not

Here’s what we know about sentencing and deterrence: People are deterred by consistent enforcement and arrest of criminal laws, less so by consistent conviction, and even less so by the length of a potential sentence. Most people – except people with significant sociopathic disorders – age out of crime, particularly violent crime so that by…

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Fake Criminal Justice Reform

Federal sentencing reform is upon us, and the results are pretty depressing. First, some context: Federal criminal law is out of control, and has been since the mid-1980s for a combination of reasons. The advent of the Sentencing Guidelines which at first were mandatory, but have become advisory, took discretion away from judges and placed…

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Do you Feel Lucky, Punk? Your Right to a Trial

Ross Ulbricht was sentenced to life in prison by United States District Court Judge Katherine Forrest who had the temerity to say to Ulbricht, as she imposed the judgment, “I don’t think you know that you hurt a lot of people.” Forrest, appointed by President Obama in 2011, probably doesn’t know just how she has…

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App Helps Calculate Structured Sentences

And now news you can use: The UNC School of Government has released a free iPhone and iPad app that helps you calculate sentences under North Carolina's increasingly complicated and unstructured Structured Sentencing system.  

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Mandatory Minimum Reform is Slow in Coming

North Carolina has structured sentencing, which has been in effect for crimes committed in the last 20 years. Before 1994, the state used Fair Sentencing, and before 1980, the state used a pre-Fair sentencing regime about which I know very little. Structured sentencing was designed to introduce consistency into the system, to eliminate parole (and…

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Federal Judge Calls for Sentencing Reforms

Anyone facing federal drug charges knows that the prosecutors’ power has far outstripped the judge’s power in the courtroom. That’s because the power to charge someone lies with the prosecutor, and prosecutors have enormous discretion to charge people under various laws that require the judge to impose mandatory minimum sentences even when such sentences were…

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Federal Sentences Still Vary Widely

When the federal Sentencing Commission was created in the 1980s, the idea was to create Sentencing Guidelines that would restore uniformity to sentencing. The concern at the time was that similarly positioned defendants were receiving wildly varying sentences depending on which judge they appeared in front of, or depending on where in the country they…

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North Carolina Structured Sentencing is No Longer Structured

Until the mid-1990s, North Carolina had a sentencing system called Fair Sentencing. The major criticisms of Fair Sentencing were that: There was no truth in sentencing. The actual sentence served was usually much lower than the stated sentence at sentencing. There was disparity in how people were treated from place to place, and defendant to…

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Post Supervision Release and New Maximum Sentences

In light of recent changes to North Carolina’s post-supervision release and post-conviction laws, all offenses, except now have post supervision release. Everyone convicted of an offense committed on or after December 1, 2011 will be required to complete Post-Release Supervision. Class B1 to F have twelve months of post supervision release. Class F through I…

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